Alfa Romeo Giulia Earns Top Safety Pick Rating

But can it stay running long enough to put its safety features to use?

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The Alfa Romeo Giulia has earned its highest rating, Top Safety Pick+, for crash safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced Tuesday.

“The Giulia represents the height of Alfa Romeo engineering and technology so no effort was spared when it came to the vehicle’s performance and safety features,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Alfa Romeo, in a press release. “We’re honored to receive this award from IIHS as it shows our commitment to creating state-of-the-art vehicles.”

Although Alfa makes a point that the Giulia earned this rating in its first model year, IIHS says that "Giulias built after May 2017 meet those criteria. At that time, the car's front-end structure was modified and the door hinge pillar and door sill were reinforced to improve occupant protection in small and moderate overlap front crashes. The head restraints and the front crash prevention system also were changed, and headlight aim was readjusted at the factory." 

That said, it's perfectly fine for a manufacturer revising its original design to make it even safer after previous tests reveal areas for improvement to earn a top rating. Additionally, "The car's optional curve-adaptive headlights earn a good rating, while the base headlights rate poor."

While the rating is a worthy achievement, there are some who would argue that the Giulia is safe because of yet another "feature": its poor reliability record. Both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power consistently rank Fiat (with whom Alfa Romeo is combined due to low sales numbers) last in their reliability ratings. Additionally, Giulia press cars have suffered failures in the hands of Jalopnik, Road & Track, Car & Driver, the Sunday Times, Pistonheads, and Consumer Reports

Granted, these were early-production models that clearly didn't have all the bugs worked out of them yet. But one would expect that Alfa Romeo would take extra care to ensure that cars placed in the sometimes-abusive hands of journalists would be reliable, particularly since Italian cars are already fighting a poor reputation for reliability.

Still, when the Giulia works, it's an absolutely amazing car to drive, according to all of these sources who have reported failures. And any IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating is a remarkable achievement, one that Alfa Romeo has clearly worked hard to earn. 

But how useful is a Top Safety Pick+ rating when a car spends half its time in the shop, like Consumer Reports' long-term test car? Not being able to drive a car will certainly prevent you from crashing it, but it also defeats the car's purpose, especially a driver's car like an Alfa Romeo.